The World Health Organization (WHO) appointed 2020 as the international year of the nurse and midwife to honor the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth. The WHO is pleased to recognize Florence Nightingale’s trailblazing vision, courage, leadership, unprecedented contributions to the nursing vocation and her impact on patient care.
MediGuide International is proud to celebrate the life and legacy of Florence Nightingale as well as recognize the tremendous sacrifice and courage of nurses currently on the front lines of the global war against COVID-19
Making a difference
Florence became a nurse in England in the 1850s - when the profession was considered a degrading occupation, and hospitals were breeding grounds for infectious disease. Florence’s most notable contributions came during the Crimean War (1853 – 1856). Hearing of the horrific conditions in British military hospital camps, she and a team of 28 nurses left for Turkey in 1854. They arrived to discover that medicines were in short supply, basic hygiene was neglected, and that more soldiers were dying from infectious diseases than from combat-related injuries.
Florence and her team moved quickly to control the spread of infection. They scrubbed floors and walls and set up a laundry operation so that linens were frequently changed and washed. Likewise, they opened windows to let in sunlight and improve ventilation and reduced overcrowding ward overcrowding. Florence also insisted on frequent handwashing with soap and water, and the regular bathing of patients. The implementation of these sanitary measures at her war hospital reduced the death rate exponentially, forever changing hospital handwashing and hygiene practices. Based on these efforts to increase hygiene and cleanliness, many soldiers’ lives were saved from infectious disease.
Founder of modern nursing
After the war, Florence returned to London and established the world’s first secular nursing school. She continued to advocate for the importance of sanitary hospital design and hygienic conditions for soldiers and civilians, bringing attention to conditions in slums and workhouses. Though in declining health, and sometimes unable to leave her bed, Florence continued campaigning for health reform, receiving politicians, urban planners, and social reformers at her bedside until her death at the age of 90. In 1912, the International Committee of the Red Cross instituted the Florence Nightingale Medal as the highest international distinction a nurse can achieve.
A living legacy
Today, nurses make up more than 50% of the healthcare workforce in most countries. Nurses are instrumental in the wellbeing of patients in every aspect of healthcare, all over the world. On the COVID-19 front lines, it is our nurses - frequently overworked, under-supplied, and at great personal risk - who spend the most time caring for and comforting the sickest patients, ensuring sure they receive the right treatment at the right time. International reports describe nurses working 12 to18 hour shifts, sleeping in hospitals for two to three weeks at a time, having no contact with friends or family to contain the spread of the virus.
Since the outbreak in China, Covid-19 has spread to nearly every country on the globe infecting more than 3 million people and taking more than 250 000 lives. The COVID risk to healthcare workers is real and serious, to date more than 9,000 nurses have contracted COVID-19 while working on the front lines. Their relentless sacrifice and dedication to defeating this horrific virus is awe-inspiring to us all.
Dr. Michael Ginsberg, a US based physician said recently, “Through my training and career, nurses have been my hands, my eyes, and my ears. Do you know why I’m a physician and not a nurse? Because I’m not brave enough to be a nurse.” MediGuide is privileged to work with and know so many of these brave souls. Thank you, nurses, for your sacrifice, skill, compassion, and leadership. We celebrate you today, and always.
2020 is designated ‘Year of the Nurse and Midwife’ by the World Health Organization to honor Florence Nightingale’s 200th birthday. MediGuide gives special tribute to our nurses and the vital service they provide.